Joel Rudgley, the North Coast Suns? player of the match
Joel Rudgley, the North Coast Suns? player of the match

Suns recover to down Rovers

THE North Coast Suns have emerged as genuine semi-final contenders in the Summer Soccer Youth League after coming from behind to defeat Rochedale Rovers 2-1 at Arkinstall Park, Tweed Heads, on Saturday. The Suns went into the game brimming with confidence after a 4-3 win over defending champions Sunshine Coast Hawks last week and despite trailing 1-0 at the break, came up with another impressive win. The Suns started well and dominated the opening half hour, but conceded a goal against the run of play when a defensive lapse allowed Rovers to get the ball to the bye-line and cut back for a tap-in goal. Rovers then went on to control possession well and shut the Suns out of the game until 10 minutes into the second half when Joel Rudgley struck. A series of quick one-touch passes released Rudgley behind Rovers' defence and after his initial shot was parried by the goalkeeper, he tapped in the leftovers. The goal inspired the Suns to new heights and with 15 minutes remaining Tom Guttormsen struck a stunning winner against his former club. Once again, quick one-touch passing saw the Suns move the ball from defence to attack, culminating in a brilliant left-foot finish from Guttormsen, who drilled his shot from the corner of the box into the top corner at the near post. The Suns controlled the closing stages as Rochedale lost their composure and resorted to the long ball, leaving coach Jonathan Harlen delighted. "We had a lot of speed on the break, our fitness was great and we finished well on top, so I'm confident we can reach the semis for the first time," Harlen said. Attacking midfielder Joel Rudgley was player of the match. Tom Guttormsen also had another fine game, along with central defender Kyle Sutton, whose pace and ability to read the play has stabilised the back line. Facing the Force The Suns' next mission is an away clash with Brisbane Force, where another win would go close to assuring a place in the top four. The North Coast Flames are still struggling to come to grips with the high standard of competition in the inaugural Women's Summer League, losing 3-0 to Mt Gravatt at Crozier Field, Lismore, on Saturday. The young but well organised Mt Gravatt line-up played with pace and intensity. They opened the scoring mid-way through the first half, when Dania Herdman split a flat Flames defence before slotting home past goalkeeper Kate Whitney. The Flames' best chances came through the pace of striker Courtney Nelson, while Abby Moss was decisive in defence and Kim Wraight toiled hard in midfield before injuring an ankle and and having to come off. But Mt Gravatt continued to look the more dangerous side and made it 2-0 by half-time when a high cross bounced over the head of the stranded Flames 'keeper. Early in the second half the Flames almost clawed a goal back when flanker Teoni Rushton hit the cross-bar, but overall Mt Gravatt continued to create more chances and only a string of fine saves from substitute 'keeper Michelle Slattery stopped the scoreline blowing out. Mt Gravatt added only one more goal from Dania Herdman late in the game following some good lead-up play, but after two games the Flames are still looking for their first goal.

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